Longstanding Canadian fashion brand Alfred Sung is undergoing a revitalization and shifting away from mass fashion, towards a bespoke experience that lets customers personalize their garments.
The shift is taking place as Mr. Sung, founder of the brand, has recently retired and officially passed the reigns to Tamara and Jordin Mimran of Mimran Group Inc. With the sibling duo having spent many years working for the Alfred Sung brand and learning from Mr. Sung himself—and given their family’s extensive history in the fashion business—Tamara says it was a natural transition for the two to take over full-time management of the brand.
“We grew up around the brand, so we’ve had exposure since we were really young,” Tamara says. “It feels great to be able to take the brand under our wing and keep it alive for hopefully generations to come.”
The change in leadership presented an opportunity for the Alfred Sung brand to change its direction. After many years of concentrating on mass fashion and licensing through retail relationships, Tamara says they saw an opportunity to return to the brand’s historical roots of specializing in tailored workwear for women and re-establishing a direct relationship with the customer.
When the Alfred Sung brand launched in the 1980s, “We were really that tailoring destination for the working woman,” she says. “It was important to go back to that and realize why people fell in love with Alfred Sung in the first place, as a brand and as a style philosophy.”
Alfred Sung launched its new bespoke service for men and women in late 2019, which includes custom fit shirts, pants, skirts, suits and outerwear. Customers can book an appointment at the brand’s Toronto showroom, located at Bathurst and Dupont, to get measured, choose their fabrics and design details, with the help of stylists on staff. Once the garment is ready, within two to three weeks, customers return for a final fitting and any necessary alterations.
Tamara says the decision to launch the bespoke service was prompted by a shift in consumer behaviour, with growing demand for tailored garments and customization.
“Customers are looking for a different sort of experience in shopping,” she says. “So, we’re excited to offer that—to offer them personalization.”
Whereas custom suits have become increasingly popular among men in recent years, Tamara says there was a gap in the bespoke marketplace for women, which presented an opportunity for Alfred Sung. “It’s something that women are looking for,” she says.
The bespoke service also offers Alfred Sung an opportunity to reconnect with its end customers, after many years of focusing on retail relationships. “We’re working on connecting with her again, figuring out who our modern woman of 2020 is.”
The bespoke concept appeals to women of all ages, according to Tamara, but she says she’s noticed high demand in particular among working women between the ages of 25-45. Since the products aren’t inexpensive, with shirts starting at $250, blazers starting at $900 and suits starting at $1,300, the concept caters to customers who are looking for an investment piece, she says.
“For something that is made specifically for you, and with the quality of fabrics that we’re offering, it’s a great price,” she says. “But, it’s not for everyone. You have to want to invest in these pieces.”
As demand for the bespoke service grows, Alfred Sung is looking to relocate its Bathurst showroom to a more central Toronto location, according to Tamara. The brand is also exploring the possibility of opening showrooms in other cities across Canada and the U.S., such as Ottawa, Vancouver, Miami, and New York, on either a pop-up or permanent basis.
For customers who prefer not to go through the process of getting measured and customizing their garment, the brand plans to make certain items available in popular sizes on the website.